Obanazawa City

- Access -

Obanazawa City

- Introduction -

Obanazawa is positioned in the northeast of Yamagata prefecture, surrounded by mountains. Wild mountain ranges cover roughly 70% of this city. People have lived here since the stone age.

In this rich natural environment , Obanazawa has various agricultural endeavors :rice, watermelon, vegetables, tobacco, and hops. This city has a population of about 19,500; 8,000 people are engaged in agriculture(2010).

This city is well-known for its heavy snowfall. Not surprisingly, with snowfalls of up to 2 meters in a single winter.

This city is also renowned for its sweet watermelon. Because the land undulates between 70 and 1,500 metres above sea level, there is a great difference in temperature between day and night which produces the delicious sweetness. Even more remarkable is the visit of poet Matuo Basho to Obanazawa over three hundred years ago. Basho and his apprentice, Sora, spent ten days in Obanazawa in 1689, the longest stopover of their trip through northern Japan. They arrived via the Natagiri mountain pass and, as recorded in the poet's The Narrow Road to the Deep North.

"At Obanazawa, I visited Seifu. Although he was rich man, he didn't have a vulgar manner. He often went to Kyoto and he knew what it feels like to be a traveller. So he invited me to stay his house for several days, and he showed me all manner of hospitality."

Seifu was the leading safflower wholesaler in the area. He was a rich man who lent money to the feudal lord. Also, he had a well - cultivated taste for haiku, and had met Basho at Edo 4 years before.

Basho wrote a haiku in Obanazawa:
"The cool summer breeze, I make myself at home completely at ease, here"


- Calendar of Events -


Held behind the City Gymnasium, the snow festival features larger - than - life snow statues, piping hot food sold at food-stalls, and a horse - drawn sleigh for children.


While runninig around the lake one can enjoy the colorful sight of 200 carp streamers.


A typical summer festival, local citizens and omikoshi (portable shrines) roam the streets to the bright sounds of the Japanese flute and shamisen.
With nearly 2,000 participants each waving a Flower Hat, this parade is a wonderful spectacle of both sight and sound!